Now that COVID-19 has jump-started a global work from-home experiment, many are speculating on the future of fice — what will it look like? Will we need an of fice at all? The option of working from home has long been at the employer’s discretion, but in the midst of a global health threat, the of fice poses safet y risks that will put the employee in the driver’s seat to determine if the health threat is greater than economic security.
Disasters — whether in the form of hurricanes, wildfires or a global pandemic — can cause significant disruption and change lives in ways large and small. We’ve all witnessed recent examples.
With the onset of COVID-19, many people worldwide are looking at their personal safety and trying to understand the nature of this pandemic. A multitude of our codes, laws and building methodologies are simply our response to a challenge (such as this virus), a wrong, or a hazardous situation. For instance, commercial buildings are typically renovated when they are in need of updating to appeal to their customer base. Sometimes change starts with customer requests or suggestions. In the case of public health or wellbeing, it can come from health department or fire marshal reports that point to a safety issue. And many times the public acts to report a building’s perceived health violation to the health department so as to protect themselves and others.
Even though our in-person interactions are significantly decreased with ongoing social distancing measures, project teams must still work hard to develop long-term plans and projects that respectfully engage the public and key stakeholders. This includes working with communities at the very beginning of a project to develop a long-range vision or plan and then see that vision through to construction or implementation.
Construction has been one of the slowest industries to adopt technology. That’s partly cultural … folks in the industry like to solve problems with their own ingenuity. Many firms are still family owned, and there’s still a lot reverence for tradition. Also, this is an industry with thin margins, where the first funding priorities are equipment and personnel.